Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi Biography: Birth, Sadbhavana Diwas, Assassination, Family, Education, Personal Life and Political Career
Rajiv Gandhi was the 6th Prime Minister of India who served the nation from 1984 to 1989. Every year on August 20, his birth anniversary is celebrated in the form of Sadbhavana Diwas. Today is the 76th birth anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi. Prime Minister Modi, Rahul Gandhi paid tributes to him, among others.
On his birth anniversary, tributes to former Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi Ji.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 20, 2020
Rajiv Gandhi was a man with a tremendous vision, far ahead of his times. But above all else, he was a compassionate and loving human being.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) August 20, 2020
I am incredibly lucky and proud to have him as my father.
We miss him today and everyday. pic.twitter.com/jWUUZQklTi
After the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi became the youngest Prime Minister of India at the age of 40. In 1991, Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated while campaigning for the elections. After his death, Rajiv Gandhi was awarded Bharat Ratna by the Government of India. Today is the 29th death anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi.
Rajiv Gandhi: Birth, Family and Education
Rajive Gandhi was born as Rajiv Ratna Gandhi on August 20, 1944, in Bombay (now Mumbai), to Indira Gandhi and Feroze Gandhi. In 1951, Rajiv Gandhi and his brother Sanjay Gandhi were admitted to Shiv Niketan School. In 1954, Rajiv Gandhi was admitted to Welham Boys' School, Dehradun and Doon School, Dehradun. In 1961, Rajiv Gandhi went to London to study A-Levels.
In 1962, Rajiv Gandhi was admitted at Trinity College, London, to study engineering but didn't obtain a degree. In 1966, Rajiv Gandhi was admitted at Imperial College, London, but did not complete the course in mechanical engineering.
In 1966, Rajiv Gandhi returned to India, the same year Indira Gandhi became the first women Prime Minister of India. He joined Flying Club in Delhi and was trained as a pilot. In 1970, Rajiv Gandhi was employed by Air India as a pilot.
Rajiv Gandhi: Personal Life
In 1968, Rajiv Gandhi married Edvige Antonia Albina Maino. Antonia Maino changed her name to Sonia Gandhi and chose India as her home. In 1970, the couple gave birth to a son and named him Rahul Gandhi. In 1972, the couple gave birth to a daughter Priyanka Gandhi.
Rajiv Gandhi: Political Career
After the death of his younger brother Sanjay Gandhi on June 23, 1980, in an aeroplane crash, Rajiv Gandhi returned to Delhi from London and cremated his brother's body. After Sanjay's death, 70 members of the Congress Party went to Indira Gandhi with a signed a proposal and urged Rajiv Gandhi to join the Indian politics. Indira Gandhi told them that the decision rests with Rajiv Gandhi. When Rajiv Gandhi was asked about the same, he replied that if it helps his mother, he will join the politics. On February 16, 1981, Rajiv Gandhi entered politics and addressed a rally in Delhi. At this time, Rajiv still served Air India.
On May 4, 1981, in a meeting of the All India Congress Committee, Vasantdada Patil proposed Rajiv as a candidate for the Amethi constituency. All the members in the meeting accepted the proposal, and a week later, his candidacy was officially announced by the Congress Party. After the announcement, Rajiv Gandhi paid the party membership and flew to Sultanpur to file his nomination. Rajiv Gandhi defeated Lok Dal candidate Sharad Yadav by 2,37,000 votes and took oath on August 17, 1981, as the Member of Parliament.
Rajiv Gandhi on his first political tour went to England and attended the wedding ceremony of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer. In December 1981, Rajiv Gandhi was made in-charge of the Indian Youth Congress. He became a member of the 1982 Asian Games organising committee along with 32 other members.
On October 31, 1984, Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards. After 19 days of her assassination, Rajiv Gandhi stated at a rally, 'Some riots took place in the country following the murder of Indiraji. We know the people were very angry, and for a few days, it seemed that India had been shaken. But, when a mighty tree falls, it is only natural that the earth around it does shake a little.'
Rajiv Gandhi: Prime Minister of India
After the assassination of his mother Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi was pressurised by Sardar Buta Singh and president Zail Singh to succeed Indira Gandhi as Prime Minister of India.
After joining the office, Rajiv Gandhi asked president Zail Singh to hold fresh elections as the Lok Sabha completed its 5-year term. Rajiv Gandhi officially became the president of the Congress Party and won the largest majority in the history of the Indian Parliament. On December 31, 1984, at the age of 40 years, Rajiv Gandhi became the youngest Prime Minister of India.
After becoming the 6th Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi appointed his 14 member cabinet. He removed Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Railway Miniter A. B. A. Ghani Khan Choudhury as both of them didn't meet his expectations. Rajiv Gandhi appointed Mohsina Kidwai as the Minister of Railways. Mohsina was the only female figure in the Rajiv Gandhi Cabinet. PV Narsimha Rao was appointed as the Minister of Defence and V.P. Singh was appointed as the Minister of Finance, but in 1987, was appointed as the Minister of Defence.
In 1985, Rajiv Gandhi, as a Prime Minister, passed the anti-defection law. The law stated that an elected Member of Parliament or legislative assembly cannot join the opposition party until the next election.
In 1985, the apex court of India ruled in favour of the Muslim divorcee Shah Bano and ordered that her ex-husband must give her alimony amount. The Indian Muslims widely criticized this judgement by the Supreme Court. In 1986, the Parliament passed The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986. The law nullified the SC's judgement in the Shah Bano case. The Act stated that the alimony to divorced women could only be given during the Iddah period or until 90 days after the divorce as per the Islamic laws.
In 1984 General Elections, Rajiv Gandhi did not mention any economic reforms in his election manifesto, but after taking the charge he provided the subsidies to the corporate houses to increase the economic growth of India. In 1986, Rajiv Gandhi announced a National Policy on Education to modernise and expand education programs in India. In 1986, Rajiv Gandhi established Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, a system which provided free residential education from standard 6th to 12th in rural India. In 1986, MTNL was established which connected India over telephone network with the help of PCOs.
In 1986, President of Seychelles France-Albert René requested Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to sent Indian Navy to Seychelles to oppose an attempted coup against Rene, to which Rajiv Gandhi agreed. This mission is known as 'Operation Flowers are Blooming' and the coup averted after the intervention of the Indian Navy.
In 1987, India re-occupied the Quaid Post from Pakistan in the disputed land of Siachen and the operation is known as 'Operation Rajiv'. In 1988, Maldives president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom asked for help from Gandhi which the later accepted and dispatched 1500 Indian soldiers to suppress the coup. This is known as the '1988 Maldives coup d'etat'.
In July 1987, Rajiv Gandhi signed Indo-Sri Lanka Accord which envisaged devolution of power to the Tamil-majority areas, dissolved the LTTE and Tamil became the Official Language of Sri Lanka.
On July 30, 1987, Rajiv Gandhi was hit by the honour guard Vijitha Rohana and Rajiv's quick reflexes saved him from head injuries. The guard intended to kill Gandhi due to the damaged he caused to Sri Lanka.
Rajiv Gandhi released the accused of the 1894's Operation Blue Star and lifted the ban on All India Sikh Students Federation and filed an inquiry into the 1984 Anti-Sikh Riots. In January 1985, despite the opposition by Akali Dal, Rajiv Gandhi signed the Rajiv-Longowal Accord with Akali Dal leader HS Longowal.
In May 1988, Rajiv Gandhi launched 'Operation Black Thunder' with the help of National Security Guard and Special Action Group to clear the Golden Temple, Amritsar, of arms and gunmen. After 10 days, the operation was successful and brought peace to the state of Punjab.
Rajiv Gandhi: Assassination
On May 21, 1991, Rajiv Gandhi attended his last public at Sriperumbudur village, where he was assassinated. Rajiv was campaigning for the Sriperumbudur Lok Sabha Congress candidate at that time. Around 10:00 pm, a woman greeted Rajiv Gandhi and bent down to touch his feet and detonated a belt laden with 700 g of RDX explosives tucked under her dress. The explosion killed 25 other people along with Gandhi. He was assassinated at the age of 76 years.
Rajiv Gandhi's assassination was captured by a local cameraman, Haribabu who died in the blast but his camera was intact. Rajiv Gandhi's mutilated body was airlifted and was sent to AIIMS, Delhi for the post mortem, reconstruction and embalming.
On May 24, 1991, a state funeral was held for Rajiv Gandhi which was live telecasted. The funeral ceremony was attended by dignitaries from more than 60 countries. Rajiv Gandhi was cremated at Veer Bhumi, near the shrines of his grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru, mother Indira Gandhi and brother Sanjay Gandhi.